Marla Kaplowitz on 4A’s relationship with ANA: 'It takes time to make sure that the trust and partnership exists'


By Bennett Bennett | Staff writer

December 12, 2017 | 4 min read

The recently-named 4A’s president and chief executive officer, Marla Kaplowitz recently talked about the current fluctuating state of the ad industry and what lies ahead for her as she oversees the trade organization. This time, she talks about building synergy between other trade organizations, and how agencies can become more inclusive environments.

Upon entering her role, Kaplowitz mentioned building upon the 4A's relationship with other trade organizations. “It’s been going really well,” she says, highlighting the joint meeting the 4A's, ANA and iAB hold every year. “Coming out that meeting every year, there’s always some initiative to come out of it.” Among them, 2016’s Coalition for Better Ads,“which is now a global entity, in terms of addressing better ad units, and hopefully at some point, experiences online.” And in 2015, the three co-created TAG, the Trustworthy Accountability Group, which she says battles ad fraud and promotes brand safety. “It’s now its own self-funding entity,” says Kaplowitz. “This year, we will likely be focusing in on how to better get data from walled gardens.”

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Specifically on the 4A’s relationship with the ANA, “I’m not even sure that a lot of people know that we actually co-own Ad-ID, our digital fingerprinting platform where content can be properly attributed across platforms.

“Bob [Liodice] has been really open and we continue to talk about different opportunites.” The ANA’s and 4A’s media councils will convene in February in a joint meeting, which Kaplowitz says, "it's not just about what marketers are dealing with or what agencies are dealing with, but we’re working in this industry together and partnering together, and what are the joint issues that we want to be addressing.”

She admits, “We are making progress. I’m sure everyone would like us to magically transform what’s happening and that just takes time, right? It just takes time to make sure that trust and that relationship is there.” ANA’s chief Liodice’s speech at the Masters of Marketing event is mentioned: “Bob was really great in his opening remarks, where he talked about the trust that exists and the great work that agencies and marketers and publishers work together,” referencing the work that the Ad Council does as an example.

One industry low from this year was the widely-panned Pepsi spot—the Kendall Jenner one—and how it impacts work coming from in-house creative. Dove also released content that garnered backlash on social media. Kaplowitz considers this a learning experience for the entire industry. “It was a good moment to remind everyone two things, she said, “one, that you can’t just be so insular that you’re not considering broader perspectives. And two, there needs to be a deeper understanding of what it means to think about people of all backgrounds. Whether you’re talking about race, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality—all those things come together, and you have to be aware of that in the messages that are being put out there and and you have to be responsible.”

No brand, or agency, is immune to mistakes, and Kaplowitz agrees, adding, “It’s about what you do after in acknowledging that, too, that’s really critical.”

Kaplowitz settles into her role as the advertising terrain continues to shift and warp with the times and platforms. She seems ready for what's coming, but there seems to be many waves ahead for the industry for her, and her member agencies to navigate.


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